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Renaissance girls run for a good cause

The Girls on the Run program at Renaissance Expeditionary School in Castle Rock
raised money to send six at-risk kids to summer camp this summer by holding
a baked goods and crafts sale, as well as a sponsored lap run.

By Lisa Crockett; photo courtesy of Janell Lewis

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a national program that teaches elementary and middle school girls to deal with social pressure and form healthy relationships, with a focus on self-esteem and health. Weekly meetings lead girls through discussions on how to be a friend, alongside workouts designed to condition participants to run a 5k race.

“In Girls on the Run, I learned to have a good attitude,” said Castle Pines resident and fourth grader Lily Klement, who participated in GOTR at the Renaissance Expeditionary School in Castle Rock. “My favorite thing about it was learning to make healthy choices.”

Linda Ladaga is a volunteer coach at Renaissance. She is also a social worker and the head case manager for Douglas County Partners, a local program that partners at-risk youth with volunteer mentors. Because of her work, Ladaga knew of kids and teenagers who would benefit from attending summer camp, but without help with funding, they wouldn’t be able to go.

“I talked to the girls about the possibility of sending one person to camp,” said Ladaga. “They were so excited about it and really worked hard. In the end, they raised enough money to send six kids to camp.”

The girls raised money in a couple of different ways. Wednesdays are half days at Renaissance, a good time to hold special events after school. So, they sold homemade baked goods and crafts at a special “Wednesday Market.”

“When we planned the Wednesday Market, we weren’t sure it would work,” said sixth grader Libby Goodman, who lives in Castle Pines and spent time in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free banana bread and M&M cookies to sell. “But after a few minutes,v people just came pouring in to where we were doing the sale. It’s so cool that we can do something small like a bake sale and make the world a better place.”

In addition to the Wednesday Market, the girls also solicited sponsors to raise money during a lap run. In total, the girls raised more than $1,400. That money was combined with matching funds from Douglas County Partners, and this summer will be put to good use sending some kids to Camp Jackson, a YMCA camp in Pueblo, and others to the Stars Conference, a leadership camp held at DU.

“It will be so unbelievable to explain to the kids on my caseload that they get to go to camp this summer because these girls did this for them,” said Ladaga. “Getting outside of their environment and going to camp will be incredible for their self-esteem and their life.”

To learn more about Douglas County Partners, visit



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